Wright State among universities offering feedback on controversial bill

Some profs worry bill would limit talk about race; sponsor says it will boost intellectual diversity.

The Inter University Council of Ohio, which represents Ohio’s 14 public universities, has been working to solicit feedback on Senate Bill 83, which could make fundamental changes to the way Ohio’s public universities and colleges function.

Wright State University and the University of Toledo are two of the universities that asked their campus communities for feedback on the bill, according to emails that the universities’ presidents sent to their campus.

“Wright State University is working with other public universities in the state through the Inter-University Council (IUC) of Ohio to address concerns with the sponsor as the proposed legislation proceeds through the legislative process,” Wright State president Sue Edwards said in an email to campus soliciting comments on the bill.

She added, “The IUC has asked member institutions to provide feedback, and we invite the campus community to assist in these efforts.”

Some of the changes to public Ohio universities, if the bill passes, would include blocking unions at state-funded universities and colleges from striking, severing ties to Chinese government programs and requiring course syllabus to be posted online in a searchable database.

Some other issues Senate Bill 83 covers include:

  • State-funded universities, like Wright State University and Miami University, would have to submit a statement to the Ohio Department of Higher Education committing to academic freedom and agree to not require diversity and inclusion courses for students and faculty.
  • Beginning in the 2026-2027 school year, students would be required to take a class in American history that included reading the Constitution, some of the Federalist Papers, the Gettysburg Address, Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
  • An overall faculty evaluation for each professor would be made public online.

The bill has some professors worried, with some concerned they wouldn’t be able to freely discuss certain topics, like race, in their classes. The bill’s primary sponsor, State Sen. Jerry Cirino, R-Kirtland, said the bill is intended to help intellectual diversity in the classroom.

Other universities have also solicited feedback. The University of Toledo also sent an email soliciting feedback to the university’s senior leadership team, deans and faculty.

“I have had discussions with the other IUC presidents to talk through and formulate responses to several of the bill’s proposals,” said Gregory Postel, University of Toledo president, in the email to the University of Toledo community. “The IUC has also convened a working group, of which UToledo is a member, to pull together information on how the included measures and requirements will impact the finances at each institution for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission’s fiscal analysis.”

Niki Clum, vice president of government relations for the IUC, said the organization is seeking feedback from the universities.

“IUC’s activities include government liaison work at the Statehouse,” Clum said. “For that reason, IUC is interested in all Ohio legislation that impacts higher education and the universities’ perspective on that legislation.”

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